SBIR Phase I: Launching Velella: Testing the Commercial Potential of Mobile Offshore Fish Farming In Ocean Gyres
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project explores expanding open ocean mariculture by using mobile, drifting fish pens entrained in regional oceanic gyres. Offshore fish farming offers tremendous growth opportunities, but faces constraints: lengthy permit processes for leases or expansion and concerns for impacts on water quality, benthos, wild fish health and view planes. Velella drifter cages resolve these regulatory concerns, reduce potential for environmental impacts, and improve fish health and productivity. Velella cages are entrained within offshore gyres, using remotely-controlled sails or deployable sea-anchors for vector forces. Research must develop predictive models of the Kona gyre, test this by deployment of GPS-tracked drogues, and then deploy a drifting cage from the existing farm and track its movement. Satellite links for video-monitoring and feeding controls will also be tested. The broader impacts of this research are development of sustainable, scalable technology for open ocean mariculture. NOAA aspires to increase aquaculture production fivefold by 2025. The need is pressing: America?s seafood trade deficit is $9 billion. Domestic seafood demand is increasing, yet capture fisheries face declining stocks, closures, and increasing regulation. Open ocean aquaculture presents the best opportunity for meeting NOAA's goal and global seafood needs in a sustainable, environmentally-sound manner. Kona Blue already produces up to 100,000 lbs/month of sashimi-grade Kona Kampachiýý offshore in Hawaii, but expansion opportunities are limited by leases and permits. Broader technologies developed for Velella could also be licensed to existing farm operations, to increase automation, reduce labor, and increase efficiencies. This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).
Small Business Information at Submission:
Kona Blue Water Farms, LLC
P.O. Box 4239 NELHA Compound,#1 Keahole Pt. Rd Kailua Kona, HI 96745
Number of Employees: